SUMMER HAS its own special tastes; tastes that evoke sun-drenched days, tastes that are tart and sweet, yet cool and refreshing. Summer tastes are best enjoyed in the warm glow of darkening skies, watching the sun set.
The dishes below, tastes of summer, can be served individually with any meal, but are delightful as a menu for an outdoor luncheon or Sunday brunch, or for a romantic dinner party. A number of them could make up the accompanying courses for an outdoor barbecue.
The menu is a blend of familiar and exotic tastes: Oriental fruit salad that is a study in contrasts and should be tried with each of the dressing/chutneys. The crunchy bit-size pieces of almond chicken are quickly prepared and can be served hot, cold or warm. The menu ends with Chinese crackling fruits. For an exotic touch, serve them on skewers or toothpicks.
This meal can be presented Indonesian style -- with all the dishes served at once. The dressing/chutneys can be spooned over all of the dishes. They should be served in individual bowls and serve the same purpose: to expand the range and possibilities of each dish. CURRIED FRUIT SOUP (4 servings) 1/4 cup honey 1/2 cup sherry 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1/4 teaspoon curry powder 2 tablespoons tahini paste 1 pint strawberries, hulled 1 banana 1 cup crushed pineapple 1 pint pineapple yogurt
Combine honey, sherry, water, lemon juice, spices and tahini in a saucepan. Add strawberries and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into a blender with the banana, pineapple and yogurt and blend until chunky, or stir by hand until well blended. Chill. Serve cold in frosted goblets.
To frost a glass, swab the rim with a section of lemon, then dip the rim in confectioners' sugar. Garnish the soup with a sprig of mint and a strawberry half. ORIENTAL FRUIT SALAD (4 servings) 1 large papaya, cubed (cantaloups can be substituted) 1 pint strawberries (quartered if large) 2 sliced bananas 1/2 cup bean sprouts 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts 1 tablespoon sesame seeds 1/4 cup walnuts 2 tablespoons chopped Chinese parsley or mint leaves 2 cups of crisped spinach leaves, shredded
Toss all ingredients together before serving. To crips spinach leaves, place washed spinach in a bowl covered with a wet paper towel in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour before using. ALMOND DRESSING/CHUTNEY 1 banana, crushed 1 cup strawberry yogurt 4 ounces cream cheese 2 tablespoons coconut cream (available in drink/bar section of supermarket) 3 tablespoons ground almonds 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon ginger 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Chinese parsley 2 tablespoons almond liqueur (or white wine)
Stir over low heat till well creamed. Serve well chilled. PINEAPPLE-PEANUT DRESSING/CHUTNEY 1 pint pineapple yogurt 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter 2 tablespoons shredded coconut 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 2 to 4 tablespoons white wine
Stir all ingredients together till well blended. Add wine till desired consistancy is obtained. ALMOND CHICKEN (4 servings) 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of boned chicken breasts 1/4 cup peanut oil 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons white wine 1 egg white 2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Coating Mixture: 1/2 cup crushed almonds 1/2 cup ground almonds 4 tablespoons sesame seeds 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Cut chicken into 2-inch squares. Stir together the cornstarch, wine, egg white, flour, chili powder and cayenne pepper into a paste like mixture. Coat the chicken in this mixture, stirring well. Roll in coating mixture. Fry in a wok or in a pan over high heat till golden in color. Can be served with pineapple chunks, hot, cold or warm.
(Alternative: Use chicken livers, cut in half, in place of chicken.) CHOCOLATE MOLE DRESSING/CHUTNEY 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1/4 cup coffee liqueur or white wine 1 cup lemon or plain yogurt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 8 large marshmallows 1 cup mashed bananas 1 teaspoon curry powder 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 tablespoon piquante or taco sauce (or barbecue sauce)
Stir all ingredients over low heat till chocolate and marshmallows are melted.
Serve well chilled. CHINESE CRACKLING FRUITS 3 cups of fruit chunks 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup water 2 cups of sugar Nutmeg
Any fruits can be used: apple segments, orange sections, apricot quarters, pineapple squares, kumquats, cherries, even dates or dried fruits. Bring to a boil the sugar, honey and water in a saucpan, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Mixture should have thickened slightly, and when dropped in ice water, will form a small ball. Sprinkle dried fruits (pat with paper towels) with nutmeg.
Dip fruits, on skewers or toothpicks, into hot syrup till fruits are thinly coated and then immediately dip into a large bowl of ice water. Serve on chilled plate, or a bowl with crushed ice. CONDIMENTS
Crushed banana chips, crunchy granola, chopped marshmallow bits, shredded coconut, dried pineapple chunks, chopped mint leaves.